MEDICALLY REVIEWED

Weekly Asian Medical News Bulletin – 6 October 2023

Malaysia Her

Medical Channel Asia presents the weekly Asian medical news bulletin, bringing you essential healthcare news from across the region. This week’s bulletin covers more beds in Singapore hospitals, high temperatures in Indonesia and healthy eating initiative in Malaysia.

Malaysia

The Malaysian Health Ministry has introduced the Malaysian Dietary Guidelines Series and the Healthy Eating Responsibility for Women (HER) initiative to address malnutrition and non-communicable diseases. Health director-general, Datuk Dr Muhammad Radzi Abu Hassan, highlighted the rise in obesity and stunting in children, and the inadequate health status of women in reproductive age, as significant concerns. The guidelines aim to provide clear and practical recommendations in line with the National Nutrition Policy Malaysia 2.0. The HER initiative focuses on women’s nutritional well-being during reproductive years and includes strategies like #HERNutrition for information dissemination, #HERselfcare for promoting regular self-checks and screenings, and community empowerment to foster healthy eating habits. Dr. Muhammad Radzi hoped the guidelines would be a primary reference for accurate nutrition information.

Also reported this week:

Malaria’s Resurgence in Malaysia Causes Concern

Malaysia Prepares for Potential “Disease X” Threat, Says Health DG Datuk Dr Muhammad Radzi

Thailand

A joint report by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Family Health International (FHI 360) reveals that several healthcare facilities in Thailand are susceptible to the impacts of climate change. The study focused on assessing four healthcare institutions, found that these facilities face various vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities include flooding and air pollution, and they could hinder access to healthcare. Most hospitals in the study need enhancements in infrastructure, technology, staffing, and facilities to handle climate change and environmental catastrophes better. The report urges the Thai government to develop more transparent policies, allocate funds for climate mitigation in healthcare, and promote collaboration between health and environmental agencies.

Philippines

The Department of Health (DOH) of the Philippines has refuted claims about the presence of the Nipah virus in the country, specifically in Cagayan de Oro. The clarification comes amid circulating reports suggesting that students and faculty members in the city’s schools had been infected with the virus. Consequently, some schools in Cagayan de Oro suspended classes due to increased flu-like symptoms among individuals. While acknowledging the prevalence of viral symptoms in the city, the DOH emphasised that no specific virus has been identified as the cause.

Also reported this week:

The Sudden appearance of Smog in Metro Manila Alerted its Citizens

Singapore

The Ministry of Health (MOH) in Singapore has introduced nearly 500 new beds to address the current bed shortage and plans to add around 800 more by the end of the year. Health Minister Ong Ye Kung shared this update during the inauguration of the Tan Tock Seng Hospital-Integrated Care Hub (TTSH-ICH). The increased bed count comes in response to strains on the public healthcare system following the COVID-19 pandemic. This led to longer waiting times for hospitalised patients. MOH is aiming to expand healthcare capacity by the year’s end with the addition of beds in various medical facilities. For the long term, MOH has plans for major infrastructure projects scheduled for completion by the decade’s end. The new TTSH-ICH will offer multiple step-down care services, including palliative care, with over 600 beds when fully operational.

Also reported this week:

BREAKING: Singaporean Celebrity Jamie Yeo Shares Her Breast Cancer Journey in Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Singapore GPs Get Involved with Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Increasing Asthma Hospitalisation in Asia Has Researchers Curious about its Cause

Indonesia

Throughout October, Jakarta and surrounding regions in Indonesia are expected to experience notably high temperatures, as forecasted by the Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG). In light of this prediction, the agency has emphasised the importance of public health measures. They’ve encouraged residents to maintain hydration and prioritise their well-being, especially those who are active outdoors. The risk of dehydration, fatigue, and other health-related issues due to the sweltering weather is high. Given the intense heat, locals are advised to take necessary precautions to avoid adverse health effects.

Vietnam

The second phase of the Young Health Programme (YHP) Vietnam, targeting the well-being of individuals aged 10-24, has been initiated in Hanoi by the Ministry of Education and Training in collaboration with AstraZeneca and Plan International Vietnam. This global initiative by AstraZeneca focuses on preventing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like diabetes, cancer, and heart diseases. Over the next three years, the program will operate in specific Hanoi districts, educating around 49,300 youths on NCD prevention. It aims to expand its reach to 300,000 individuals through online campaigns. Since its 2010 launch, the YHP has reached over 10 million young people globally. Despite COVID-19 challenges, YHP Vietnam’s first phase (2019-2022) saw significant positive shifts in youth health awareness. 77% of Vietnam’s 2018 deaths are attributed to NCDs by WHO data. Therefore, this program is crucial for moulding healthier behaviours in the country’s youth.

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